Tharold Sylvester - Amarillo, Texas Special Meeting - 1982

I was in convention last week in Hawaii. They are a hearty people. I appreciate their faithfulness. We were without lights a few days, due to the hurricane, but that didn't stop convention. This is my first trip to Texas. I saw it on the map, but this is the first time I ever saw it. I am glad to be here.

I had a letter from a fellow worker sometime ago, and it made a statement I found hard to believe. The word "love" is not found in the Book of Acts. I made a study of that book and found it wasn't there. The whole book is filled with love in action. Isn't that the thing that makes Christianity? Christianity isn't a negative thing. It is a positive thing. Because we have life, we want to give expression of what God has laid upon our hearts.

This morning, I am going to speak of some things that I love and some of the things that you love. The first chapter starts out about God pouring out His Holy Spirit upon the disciples. The first chapter tells us of the 120, "You tarry at Jerusalem until you be endowed with power from on high, and then you bear witness of that at Judea and Jerusalem and the uttermost parts of the earth."

Obedience is the greatest sacrifice anyone can make whether in little or great things. The Holy Spirit is given to them that obey Him. The next time you are faced with a difficulty that you have to sit down and count the cost, obey Him regardless of the cost and consequences and you will find out the Lord can do some wonderful things for you. The Holy Spirit was poured out upon them, the 120. They were with one accord in one faith. They had the understanding. They had the teachings of Jesus, and they had been brought together. Before Jesus left them, He said "I will send you the promises and give you the Holy Spirit, a Spirit the world cannot receive." It doesn't know it. I have been to many conventions and many countries, and there is a spirit among God's people you will find no where else.

My parents didn't find it in the Baptists or the Catholic people. They had a preacher who said, "Don't do as I do, but do as I say." My mother finally said, "If it isn't good enough for him to live, why is he asking us to do it?" They sought out another church of abomination. Then the preacher said, "Lock the door, these people aren't getting out until they raise the money for the church's debt." My parents were poor people. They got out, but they didn't go back. They moved out into the country, eighteen miles out of the city. Then two (2) strangers came into that district and got the old church building. It had thrived at one time, but it had died. Can you imagine the true church of God dying? God forbid!

Those two strangers knocked on our door one rainy day. My mother hadn't talked to those men two hours until she realized they had something she didn't have. That curiosity took her and her family to that meeting. I was only eight years old, but I can still remember the things I heard. My mother and Dad and brothers and sisters decided. I made my choice at convention. It wasn't just two workers that helped me. It took a whole bunch of them. It has taken a lot of help since then to keep me. Old Satan is determined. He is playing and he is playing for keeps. It is easy to fall into a snare and take out what God wants to put in your heart.

Back to Acts. The Holy Spirit came upon them. It was kindling the love of God in their hearts. Peter finally had the opportunity of speaking to those people. "These people are not drunk as you suppose." There were 17 different nationalities there, and they heard them in their own tongue. "Aren't these people Galileans?" They were speaking the language they did not know. Every person heard them in their own language. What happened? Three thousand got saved. They came and wanted to accept this and declare their purpose and desire.

Just in passing I can tell you this - 50 days before Jesus was led out of Jerusalem, a mob said, "Away with Him, we will not have this Man to reign over us." There might have been that first crowd or the second one. There was enough that happened that should have changed everyone of them, the resurrection of Jesus. When God raised Jesus from the dead, He put His stamp of approval upon that life. That resurrection was God's way of telling, that Man is all He says He is, and He has been a true witness, and we still know the redemption that He purchased on Calvary.

Before Jesus died in John 14, it tells us that, "If a man love Me, he will keep My commandments and My faith - Love Me and I will come and make My abode with him." That was the condition - keeping His word, keeping His commandments. The greatest power and greatest blessing that can come into any person's life is the blessing of God. The blessing of God giveth life and bringeth no sorrow.

Sometime ago, I was talking to a very religious man, In the course of our conversation, I quoted that out of the New Testament, "Thou shall love the Lord Thy God with all thy strength and thy neighbor as thyself." That was a familiar scripture to him. He said, "How can I love anybody I don't know?" That is the place we are often time put.

Then I went into the scripture to see how Jesus did help people, the blind man in John 9. He didn't preach a sermon to that man. He spit on the ground, reached down and mixed that spit with a little clay and anointed the eyes of that man. Anointing it, but don't rub it in. Then He said, "Go and wash in the Pool of Siloam." It must have been 1/4 or 1/2 a mile. Somebody had to lead that man down to the Pool of Siloam. He sat at the edge of the pool and I can see that man reaching into the water and putting it on his eyes, and one thing happened that changed his whole life. His sight was restored. He saw things he had never seen before. Did Jesus do something that would make that man love Him? He went back among his acquaintances. Jesus wasn't there. That fellow was put through the mill. They said, "Look, the man that was blind. How did you get your eyes opened?" He said, "A man named Jesus anointed my eyes, and here I am." Obedience changed his whole life. The Pharisee said, "That man is a sinner you are talking about." He said, "One thing I know, once I was blind - now I can see." The proof of the pudding is in the eating. It is an accomplished result. That man never had to be led again. There were things he could see to do. He could make up for lost time. If any man confesses Jesus, they will put him out of the synagogue. The last little picture you get is that Jesus met him there at the temple. Before that, he could never enter the temple. No one that was blind or had a blemish of any kind could enter the temple. God doesn't want blind people in His Kingdom. He doesn't want any lepers there. He wants to heal them first. If you will go in and trace different characters that He met, you will find He did the very same thing that made them love Him.

We love Him because He first loved us. You have the record of Peter. Luke's Gospel tells us that Jesus entered into the boat and preached to the crowd that was on the shore. Finally, He told them, "Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets." Peter said, "We have toiled all night and haven't caught anything, nevertheless, at Thy word, we will let down the nets." There was enough there to fill the boats, yet during the night, they hadn't caught anything. Peter said, "Depart from me, I am a sinful man. I don't deserve this." "No you don't, but I am going to give it to you anyway." He descended from on high, and He gave gifts to men. Yea, to the rebellious, also.

"Go and tell them I have risen from the dead and I will meet you up there in Galilee." You know how many there were there? I Corinthians 15, there were over 500 brethren there. They came from all over the country. I think the blind might have been there. Matthew 28 tell us about that meeting, "All power is given to Me in heaven and in earth. Go and teach all nations, baptize in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost." There are four "ALLS" - All powerful, all nations, all things I have commanded; and I am with you always. Matthew's Gospel leaves Jesus with His disciples, Luke tells about the ascension.

You know how much Jesus put the emphasis on the love of God. Sending out the first twelve. "Sell all you have, and give it away and come follow Me." "Take no thought of what you are going to eat, drink, or put on. Seek His righteousness, and these things shall be added to you." We find that is the most practical thing. I thank God for the way He sent us out. We don't know where we will go next, but we have faith in the Son of God. He has brought so many things in my life I could call more than fringe benefits. The salvation of God. The fellowship of God. The world doesn't know anything about, and then be guided by His Holy Spirit. All power, all nations. We believe that, and we rejoice in that. Luke said he wanted them to know the certainty of these things that are most surely believed amongst us. We are doing our best to try to maintain that. Making it possible for God to bring to you the anointing of God's Holy Spirit. Love's message.

You know what happened, one of the first things in Jesus ministry. He found those people that had brought oxen and sheep and doves. If He had come and said, "Now, this isn't the way to serve God," they wouldn't have paid any attention to Him. He made a scourge of small cords. He made them wear it. When I mentioned this to some people, they said, "We don't buy and sell in our temple. We do it in the basement. We aren't transgressing in doing it down there." Jesus was manifesting He did not believe in commercialized religion, and we don't either, and we are glad that God can meet the needs of His servants, we can go on His promises and He can direct us to where He wants us, above everything else.

Peter's message in Acts 2, the clarity of it, the simplicity of it. Peter didn't need to have a high school education to understand what Jesus talked about. I don't think any of those fishermen had that much education.

In the first chapter of John's Gospel, He went out to the Sea of Galilee and met Philip and He said, "Follow Me." Then He met James and John and He said, "Follow Me." They did. How much did He have to preach to convince these men that this is the Son of God? There was something about His spirit, His manner, and His message that caused them to feel, "We can have confidence in that," and they began to follow. He had found Philip, and Philip found Nathaniel, and when he told Nathaniel to come and see, Nathaniel said "Can any good come out of Nazareth?" He said "Come and see," but when Jesus saw Nathaniel, He said, "Behold an Israelite in whom is no guile!" He said, "How did you know me?" He said, "When I saw you under the fig tree, I knew you." If he was moved that much to pray under a fig tree some distance from the path the Lord knew there is a man that sees. "When I saw you under the fig tree, I knew you, I had My eye on you."

At a meeting not so long ago about this size when I was speaking, there was a young man about half-way down the aisle, and the way he was setting there and the way he was listening, I thought, "That man should be out in the work." I asked who he was, and I prayed for him and before the week was out, I got a letter from him, and is out in the work now. "Thou shalt see greater things then these."

"The angels ascending and descending upon the ladder." The thing is said of Jacob. Angels - sent to minister to those that shall be heirs of salvation. Do you believe that an angel walking beside you might know your innermost thoughts? If he sees there is a move in the right direction, he might carry that request to God and get the help he needs and present it to you. Sometimes people feel there aren't enough angels to go around. There were 10,000 X 10,000. There were enough for two or three to take care of them. I need it. That is how interested heaven is in your salvation.

If that love is what it should be, it will produce a love in you so that you will love and serve Him all your life. Love's message, what about love's power? Have you found the Gospel a weak thing? It just appealed to me that weakness gives Satan a chance at you and me. After he has used all his devises and tried to get you entangled, then the Gospel comes along and picks you out of all of that and puts you in His family. "I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ because it is the power of salvation to all that believe, to the Jews first, then to the Greek. I am ready to preach the gospel to you, also." Love in action guided by the Spirit of God. If you went through the Book of Acts and noticed how much the Spirit of God played a part in their direction, you would have more confidence that the Lord knows what He is doing. Here was Andrew, and Peter, James and John, Philip and Nathaniel, and Jesus made seven.

If they started down the road and they could stop at all the houses and they could start in and tell them a few parables that they needed to know. Here is a preacher that we can understand. Here is a preacher that can give us eternal life. As the Truth of the Gospel began to dawn on them, they began to see, "My body is the temple of God." They find out the Lord is able to do great things for them. Then He has to start all over again and do things to prove to you He loves you. I wouldn't doubt but this meeting could be that very thing to somebody. You might have been defeated, weak and weary, but cried within you, wouldn't Jesus rebuke old Satan? Jesus would say, "I will rebuke Satan for My sake." "I will rebuke Satan for your sake." There have been times when Satan has given me trouble, and all I could do was pray, "Lord, rebuke Satan." "Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you." How successful is our resisting Satan?

When we were boys, we didn't have all the toys children have today. We had to make them. We found with a magnet, we could even draw things in the dust and there were certain things in the dust and would stick to it, and it would draw it to us. Do you know why you are here today? The Lord saw something in your heart that drew you. One sister worker said, "I don't know why the Lord picked on me." I know why He picked on me, because I needed it. Love's power. We can talk about love's sacrifice. We read about Mary's sacrifice, the night before Jesus died. She broke the alabaster box, and anointed His head and body. Jesus said, "I am going up to Jerusalem to be scourged and put to death, but I am going to rise again." Some of the disciples wouldn't catch that. When Jesus spoke about Mary, He said, "She has done this beforehand to anoint My body for the burial." There were certain ointments and certain chemicals, but Mary got in on the ground floor, and she applied that so His heart could be made more willing. Love's sacrifice. Don't undervalue the sacrifice that Christ made for us. It is more vast than I have been able to grasp.

Love's sacrifice, but what about loves service? Do you appreciate love's service? I believe the Lord appreciates the love service. A love service is given without any grumbling. "I will do it, but I don't like it." How much can the Lord honour that? What the Lord likes to see is a glad, willing service. Away back in the book of Exodus in the building of the tabernacle, it talks about the ones whose hearts were made willing. The only thing you are going to take with you when you die is the spirit. One man said he didn't want to die with the same proud willful spirit he was born with. That is why the Lord wants to give us another spirit. He spirit can change people's lives. Love's service, love's sacrifice, love's honesty, love's loyalty.

The Book of Acts was never finished. Last Chapter leads us up to where Paul was preaching in that hired house in Rome. Love's service guided by the Holy Spirit. That is the thing that is going to make us one. You can't take your wealth or anything else with you. You are going to take your spirit. Haven't you met people rich in faith and they have a wonderful spirit. They can give it to you freely. We would like to see every child of God partaking of that Spirit. We see people who want to share with people all the benefits of heaven, obedience to His word will open things up and guide us in His pathway. Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. We want to start with Him and we want to finish with Him.

Fellowship. We know a fellowship the world doesn't know anything about. Fellowship isn't just eating picnic lunches and pie. Fellowship is a heart to heart communion. We value those who can open their heart to us, and we can open our hear to them. We would like to enable them to stand true where they are, in any circumstances. Our sufficiency is in Christ. It deals with some of the problems that arose in that day. Ananias and Sapphira wanted to have the ministry. Peter said, "Sell your land for so much." He said, "Yes, so much." Why have you lied to the Holy Spirit? He was stricken right there. She not only told a lie. She was living a lie. That is why the Lord took them out of our fellowship.

Look at Stephen. He was a hearty man. He knew how to please Christ. They that looked upon Stephen saw his face shine as if it was an angel. This was the greatest privilege to have had in telling, these Chaldeans exactly what He lived for. It cost him his life. He was taken out and stoned. I believe Saul felt, "That man has something I don't have." Stephen, as he was dying, said, "Lay not this sin to their charge." Then he died. Taking the whole picture, do you know how I felt about that? God traded a good man, for a better man. He used Stephen to break Saul down. Saul became Paul the Apostle, and he gives 14 epistles that maybe Stephen could never have done. God traded a good man for a better man. Was that sacrifice too great? Not in God's Way. I had the privilege a year ago to stand on Mars Hill where Paul preached that sermon. That city is filled with heathen temples and idols. Paul told them about God. Paul dared to tell them the same thing Stephen told them at Jerusalem and had been put to death for.

In Athens, they had the first convention there in September. 250 there. There are 14 churches in that city. It hasn't been a continuous thing from Paul to there, but the ones who went there were led by the same Spirit, so the same power is working and the same thing is being produced.

Love's reward, fellowship, built upon a foundation that can't be shaken.